CNN is reporting that a disruption at Google may have caused the loss of 150,000 GMail accounts. Google is working on restoring the email, but one user in the help forum asks, “What if the cloud fails”?
Most home users have been using “the cloud” since the 1990s via hotmail or through email hosted by their dial-up or broadband ISP. Today users mostly rely on some kind of web mail for both business and personal communication. As we have moved away from client applications we rely more and more on the service provider to ensure that we can access our data when we need it using a web browser. For a small business owner or freelancer loss of data can mean loss of revenue from downtime, if not wiping out your entire business.
One step that users can take is to consider using client applications again. This may seem like a backwards step until you need to access your data while the service provider is down. GMail works with any program that is compatible with Microsoft Exchange or using the IMAP protocol.
GMail support details how to configure IMAP in your email client. Since IMAP synchronizes with the mailbox there will be a copy of the email on the server that can be accessed with a web browser or it can be accessed through a client program like Outlook or Thunderbird. Using IMAP can be a cheap (free) form of insurance in the event that the email provider has a permanent failure.
Small business users may want to consider the benefits of using an email client to keep a copy of their email. Hard drives can fail or experience a fire, flood, or other catastrophe in both the datacenter and in the home or office. Keeping multiple copies of email in different locations is one way of protecting your business.